Monday, January 10, 2011

The Handmaid’s Tale
If you haven’t noticed, my guest blogger Sarah B. has been posting a lot lately. I definitely want to check out some of her picks, and I did check out The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. Atwood is a familiar name to me; I read Surfacing and The Blind Assassin in college. Atwood is a master of writing feminist works that are both engaging and creative. I’ve always heard good things about The Handmaid’s Tale, so with Sarah’s timely reminder, I picked it up. As we learned from Sarah, the story takes place in a dystopian society. The handmaid, whose only name we get is Offred (as in, belonging to Fred), lives in a future society where it has become hard to produce offspring. A religious group has taken over America, and forced women into slave like roles. Offred has become a handmaiden, a woman who in her previous life had children, so society is hoping she can do it again. She is not married to the man of the house, but rather spends a night with him a month trying to make a child. I should mention that the wife is there as well, sharing in the “experience.” Offred takes us through her daily life of memories, regret, and mindless chores. We get a sense of what her life was like before the takeover, which contributes to the tragedy of her situation. The ending is a bit mysterious, but also creative, in that we get a professor in the distant future talking about finding The Handmaid’s manuscripts, and discussing their significance at a seminar. Atwood’s typical poetic verse makes the story read quickly, but I could have done with a little more.

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